Posted by Jim Connolly
It’s a very broad question, but a lot of people ask me for help with how to build a successful business.
So, here’s some of the best business development advice I know, along with lots of examples. I hope you find it useful!
Build a successful business… by doing all the work
Maybe the biggest difference between the most successful business owners and everyone else, is this:
- The most successful business owners do 100% of what’s required to succeed.
- The average business owner does 100% of the things required… so long as they feel comfortable doing it.
The difference in results between those 2 mindsets is enormous. The successful business owner sees her business needs something, and does it. The typical business owner sees the same thing, then weighs it up based on how comfortable they are about it. If it feels too uncomfortable, even though their business needs it, they don’t do it.
For example: I recall speaking with a business owner once, who sold his business to a guy, who tripled its turnover in 6 months. The former owner told me how frustrated he was, as all the things the new owner did were things he had already thought of doing, but failed to do because they were ‘too risky’. Over the 10 years the former owner had the coffee shop, he believes his aversion to stepping out of his comfort zone lost him at least $15,000,000.
If your business needs something, do it. Puff out your chest, leave your comfort zone and make the right decision rather than the easy decision.
So, to build a successful business do all the work required.
Build a successful business… by connecting with the right people, in advance
To build a successful business, you will need the help and support of others. As I have said here many times over the past 5 years, business is all about people.
One of the key differences between successful business owners and those who struggle, is the way they connect with people.
Successful business owners think of the people, whose help they will need, in advance. They deliberately, regularly make connections with key people. Then, months or years later, if they need their advice or help, it’s there. I know of no exceptions to this rule.
Struggling business owners wait until they need help, then they pester strangers with selfish requests.
For example: I get emails every day, from total strangers who want me to do things for them. Some ask me for detailed marketing advice. Others have just written a book or launched something, and ask me to write about it, because they know I have a great readership.
Never, ever start a business relationship, by asking a total stranger for a selfish favour. Make the connections first. Get to know people. Show some respect. Be human.
The most successful business owners, go beyond this… they actively look for ways to be of value to others, in advance. They know that ‘giving and receiving’, begins with the ‘giving’ part.
So, to build a successful business, make the right connections in advance.
Build a successful business… by having a wide spread of clients or customers
The most successful business owners know the danger of having too few, high paying clients. They make sure they have a wide spread of business, rather than a few clients, who are responsible for a large percentage of their income.
For example: My wife is a very good Amazon customer and spends several thousand there every year. We have deliveries from Amazon every week, often 2 or 3 times. Do you have any idea how big a problem it would be for Amazon, if my wife stopped shopping with them? None. Zilch. Zero. That’s because Amazon has a massive number of customers. They can afford, literally, to lose 50,000 people who spend just as much as my wife, without breaking a sweat.
The typical small business owner does the opposite. Especially service providers. They usually have a small number of clients, who represent the majority of their income. If they lost even one, it would have a serious impact on their business. In some cases, it can put them out of business.
To grow a successful business, your business needs to be resilient. It needs to be robust. It needs to have a wide spread of clients or customers, none of whom have too big a share of your turnover or revenues.
If you currently find yourself too reliant on a small number of clients, make remedying the situation your number one priority. It’s a lot easier to improve your spread of business now, than when you have just lost a major client or customer.
So, to build a successful business, don’t have too many eggs in one basket.
Build a successful business… by using proven strategies, not tactics
One of the biggest mistakes people make, when trying to build a successful business, is to copy the tactics of other successful businesses, rather than learn from their strategies.
For example: Hundreds of ‘new’ social networking sites fail every month, because they try and copy what Facebook or Twitter does, (tactics) and end up creating a very similar network, that has no users. This approach can’t possibly work. Why would anyone use a new version of Facebook, which none of their friends are on?
If instead, they focused on the strategies that worked for Facebook or Twitter, such as developing something sufficiently unique, viral and valuable, they would have stood a better shot.
When you copy someone’s tactics, you simply become a copy of the original. Copies are of little value. The original Mona Lisa is priceless… you can buy a copy though, for the price of a coffee!
The challenge with discovering a successful strategy, is that it’s often hidden. We can see the tactics successful business owners use, because they are visible. However, discovering the strategies behind those tactics takes a lot more detective work. Fortunately, many of the world’s most successful business owners have written books on how they did it. Others are often interviewed, allowing us insights into the strategies they use or have used.
I have never seen a successful business that’s made up of a series of tactics. They are all strategic.
So, to build a successful business, think strategic.
Build a successful business… by getting the help you need
Very, very few successful business owners are equally great at every business discipline. It’s natural for all of us to be stronger in some areas and weaker in others. Commercially, our areas of weakness can have a huge, negative impact on our overall business success, if we allow them to.
This leaves us with 2 options:
- Learn to become strong in the areas where we are weak.
- Hire expertise in the areas where we are weak.
Ongoing learning is essential to your business success, however, none of us can learn to be an expert in every area. So, we need to choose wisely.
For example: If you need a new website, which looks professional and isn’t simply based on a template used by a million other sites, it pays you to hire a talented designer. Otherwise, it may take you years to learn how to write code and study design, to the point where you can do work as polished as a talented professional web designer. You ‘save’ nothing by either creating a crappy looking DIY website quickly, or by robbing your business of hundreds of hours of your precious time, to learn how to design a great site.
Every successful business I have ever studied, has hired the help it needed. Conversely, every failed business I ever looked into, tried to do it all themselves. DIY is best kept to the home. Do It Yourself accountancy, IT, marketing and legal work, etc, makes zero sense… especially in today’s super competitive economy.
So, to build a successful business, get the help you need.
I hope you found these ideas useful. More importantly, I hope you do something with them.